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US20040153467A1 - System and method for cataloguing digital information for searching and retrieval - Google Patents

System and method for cataloguing digital information for searching and retrieval Download PDF

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Publication number
US20040153467A1
US20040153467A1 US10760472 US76047204A US2004153467A1 US 20040153467 A1 US20040153467 A1 US 20040153467A1 US 10760472 US10760472 US 10760472 US 76047204 A US76047204 A US 76047204A US 2004153467 A1 US2004153467 A1 US 2004153467A1
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information
metadata
invention
system
server
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US10760472
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Joan Conover
Douglas Anthony
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Science Applications International Corp (SAIC)
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Science Applications International Corp (SAIC)
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRICAL DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F17/00Digital computing or data processing equipment or methods, specially adapted for specific functions
    • G06F17/30Information retrieval; Database structures therefor ; File system structures therefor
    • G06F17/3061Information retrieval; Database structures therefor ; File system structures therefor of unstructured textual data
    • G06F17/30705Clustering or classification
    • G06F17/30707Clustering or classification into predefined classes
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRICAL DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F17/00Digital computing or data processing equipment or methods, specially adapted for specific functions
    • G06F17/30Information retrieval; Database structures therefor ; File system structures therefor
    • G06F17/3061Information retrieval; Database structures therefor ; File system structures therefor of unstructured textual data
    • G06F17/30722Information retrieval; Database structures therefor ; File system structures therefor of unstructured textual data based on associated metadata or manual classification, e.g. bibliographic data
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRICAL DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F17/00Digital computing or data processing equipment or methods, specially adapted for specific functions
    • G06F17/30Information retrieval; Database structures therefor ; File system structures therefor
    • G06F17/30861Retrieval from the Internet, e.g. browsers
    • G06F17/30864Retrieval from the Internet, e.g. browsers by querying, e.g. search engines or meta-search engines, crawling techniques, push systems
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10STECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10S707/00Data processing: database and file management or data structures
    • Y10S707/953Organization of data
    • Y10S707/956Hierarchical
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10STECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10S707/00Data processing: database and file management or data structures
    • Y10S707/99931Database or file accessing
    • Y10S707/99932Access augmentation or optimizing
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10STECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10S707/00Data processing: database and file management or data structures
    • Y10S707/99931Database or file accessing
    • Y10S707/99937Sorting
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10STECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10S707/00Data processing: database and file management or data structures
    • Y10S707/99941Database schema or data structure
    • Y10S707/99944Object-oriented database structure
    • Y10S707/99945Object-oriented database structure processing

Abstract

The system and method for searching and retrieving information stored in heterogeneous information repositories. A portal server retrieves user requests through a computer network and looks up information stored in a metadata databases. For example, the metadata may be encoded in an XML/RDF format and stored in a directory server to facilitate effective searching and retrieval of information from an information repository. Metadata includes information including a classmark definition for each document. The classmark is determined through an automated cataloguing process.

Description

  • [0001]
    The present invention relates to the field of information indexing, cataloguing and retrieval, and in particular to a system and method for automatically cataloguing Internet information repositories, creating an eXtensible Markup Language (XML) metaindex in an encoded XML format (i.e., the Resource Description Framework (RDF) format), and providing a mechanism to effectively search and retrieve the information.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0002]
    In the last few years, there has been an explosion of information available on the Internet. In the very early 1990s, the Internet was a network consisting of computers from military, research, and educational organizations. There were small collections of information available through mostly file transfer protocol (FTP) sites and Gopher sites. With the advent of the web and increases in bandwidths beginning in about 1993, people began to put more and more information on the Internet.
  • [0003]
    Originally, the Internet was only available for non-commercial research and educational use. When the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) relaxed usage restrictions, finally permitting commercial use, Internet usage exploded. Today, most households have Internet access and anyone with Internet access can publish information on the Internet.
  • [0004]
    Shortly after the advent of the web, users realized that there was a need to have a way to search the Internet to assist users in locating information. Websites such as Lycos™ and AltaVista™ were developed to meet this need. These sites used spiders to scan the Internet for content, collecting and indexing keywords. These full-text-based indexes were then used on a website to assist users in searching the Internet to locate needed information. This method was effective when the Internet was young. Recognizing problems associated with large quantities of indexes, many larger search engine sites, such as Yahoo™ and Excite™, began to manually catalogue the indexed material. Manual cataloguing is not an effective methodology for organizing the vast amount of information on the WWW.
  • [0005]
    Today, most of the available content is unstructured so that it is difficult to locate pertinent data. Anyone with Internet access can publish any information they wish on the Internet. As the cost of access and disk space has decreased, the volume of information available has grown tremendously. Elementary search engines that simply create indexes of keywords are becoming increasingly ineffective in identifying relevant documents. There is a growing need for more effective search systems.
  • [0006]
    There is an additional need to provide a search system that can be used to perform a search across many heterogeneous information retrieval systems. For example, many organizations have built information retrieval systems to permit users to obtain documents published by that organization. It is desirable to provide a search system that can index and catalogue information stored in many different formats on different websites, permitting users to perform a search through a single web portal.
  • [0007]
    Finally, there is a need to provide a system for performing automated cataloguing and indexing of documents. Prior art systems have simply created keyword indexes. There is a need for a system that uses a thesaurus and a classification system to determine both keywords for an indexed document but also a class for the document to permit more effective search and retrieval of information.
  • [0008]
    As the quantity of information available on the Internet grows, it is becoming more and more important to provide more advanced search and retrieval capabilities. Keyword indexing alone is proving inadequate in providing a search system that permits a user to effectively locate and access information on the Internet.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0009]
    In the drawings:
  • [0010]
    [0010]FIG. 1 depicts a diagram of a digital library according to one embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0011]
    [0011]FIG. 2 depicts an automated cataloguing and index system according to one embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0012]
    [0012]FIG. 3 shows a sample metadata data structure according to one embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0013]
    [0013]FIG. 4 depicts a sample Resource Description Framework (RDF) schema according to one embodiment of the present invention; and
  • [0014]
    [0014]FIG. 5 depicts a sample XML/RDF representation of document metadata according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • SUMMARY
  • [0015]
    An embodiment of the present invention provides a method and system for indexing and cataloguing data stored on one or more information repositories. The information repositories may be distributed on a computer network. As the data stored in the information repositories is scanned, keywords are collected and indexed. The keywords are used to catalogue the data and to create metadata that is stored to assist in searching and retrieval of the data.
  • [0016]
    One embodiment of the present invention is an information search and retrieval system. A user sends a request to perform a search or retrieve data to a web portal server. The server then uses stored metadata to identify relevant documents. The data can then be retrieved and sent to the user. The metadata may be stored on the web portal server or may be located on one or more metadata servers.
  • [0017]
    Some embodiments of the present invention store metadata information encoded in the eXtensible Markup Language (XML). In addition, some embodiments use the Resource Description Framework (RDF) to define and store the metadata.
  • [0018]
    Various embodiments of the present invention fulfill one or more of the needs discussed above. These embodiments will be described in detail below in the detailed description of the invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0019]
    To build an effective and growing information infrastructure, it is necessary to integrate or catalogue collections of heterogeneous digital libraries. Integrated information repositories form a federated digital library in the form of an index accessible through web portal technology. Such an index encapsulates the specific operations or contents of individual member libraries or data-marts with an XML wrapper, making access to the constituent repositories transparent to the user.
  • [0020]
    Some problems that had to be solved to integrate digital libraries in an index structure according to the present invention were the following: (1) integrating existing digital libraries into a federated digital library; (2) insulating the federated digital library from changes made in individual digital libraries; (3) making relocation of individual digital libraries transparent to users; and (4) overcoming the lack of sufficient metadata in some digital libraries.
  • [0021]
    Prior art libraries with meta-indexes have no automated classification ability to populate key descriptor fields based on domains or classification schemes. One embodiment of the present invention can be used to expand the descriptor fields, allowing a more robust index of library assets.
  • [0022]
    XML with its tremendous support by the Web community can serve as a meta language, accepted by most digital libraries, to specify interfaces and methods of interactions. The eXtensible Markup Language (XML) is a simple dialect of SGML that has been endorsed by the W3C consortium. This meta-tagging approach makes it possible for a library to implement its own policies and features as well as to change them as long as it is able to describe these changes in the XML-based language, specifically an index built in the Resource Description Framework (RDF). In particular, it does not require any existing library to change its architecture but only to describe it.
  • [0023]
    RDF is an XML application that adds semantics to documents by encoding and using metadata. For example, RDF could be used to encode content advisory ratings, information about the author, and licensing or copyright information. RDF is a general purpose XML application that can be used to encode any metadata. One embodiment of the present invention creates metadata regarding a document and stores that information using RDF. Other embodiments of the present invention use a relational database to store metadata information.
  • [0024]
    [0024]FIG. 1 describes a Web portal architecture using RDF indexes based on XML technology integrating different digital libraries. Search engines, with a knowledge of XML/RDF, then can access/filter for relevant data.
  • [0025]
    A user logs on to the system using workstation 101. In one embodiment, workstation 101 is any computing device that can run a web browser. For example, workstation 101 can be: a personal computer running Microsoft™ Internet Explorer™ or Netscape™ Communication™; a personal digital assistant (PDA) such as a Palm™ computing device running a web browser; or a wireless communication device providing access to the Internet or other computer network.
  • [0026]
    Using workstation 101, the user sends a search or retrieval request through communications network 102. In one embodiment of the present invention, communications network 102 is the Internet. One of ordinary skill in the art would appreciate that any other computer network could also be used with the present invention including, as some examples, a local area network (LAN), a wide area network (WAN), a corporate intranet, or a commercial service provider network. Workstation 101 connects the communications network 102 through a communications component. For example, in various embodiments of the present invention, the communications component includes a 56 Kbps modem, a network adapter, a cable modem, an ethernet card, or any other network access device.
  • [0027]
    Workstation 101 sends a request through communications network 102 to portal server 103. In one embodiment of the present invention, portal server 103 is a Sun™ Unix™ server running the Solaris™ operating system. The present invention could also be practiced using a Windows™ NT™ server, a Linux™ server, a Novell™ Netware™ server, or any other computing platform for portal server 103. Portal server 103 connects to communications network 102 through a communications component such as those discussed above with regard to workstation 101.
  • [0028]
    Portal server 103 receives a request from workstation 101 and formulates a request to metadata server 104. In one embodiment of the present invention, metadata server 104 is a Windows™ NT™ computing device running an LDAP directory server application. In this embodiment, portal server 103 uses standard LDAP requests to allow permission to retrieve metadata information across communications network 102. Metadata server 104 includes a communications component such as that described above with regards to workstation 101 and portal server 103.
  • [0029]
    In one embodiment of the present invention, the metadata is stored in XML/RDF format. This XML-encoded metadata is returned to portal server 103 in response to a request. Portal server 103 then sends a request to one or more of the appropriate information repositories 105. Each information repository 105 is a computing device connected to communications network 102 in the same manner as the above-mentioned servers. These repositories store a collection of information. Using the metadata obtained from metadata server 104, portal server 103 is able to identify and retrieve the most relevant information necessary to satisfy a user request.
  • [0030]
    [0030]FIG. 2 illustrates the automated cataloguing support process according to one embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, the system builds an indexed infrastructure, automatically cataloguing heterogeneous information repositories based on a pre-defined classification hierarchy. Once classified based on the ontology mapping, the documents and other relevant extracted meta-data, the index represents the metadata using a RDF schema.
  • [0031]
    The Resource Description Framework (RDF) is an infrastructure that enables the encoding, exchange, and reuse of structured meta-data. It is an application of XML that imposes needed structural constraints to provide unambiguous methods of expressing semantics. This structural constraint allows the interchangeability of metadata defined by heterogeneous sources. RDF additionally provides a means for publishing both human-readable and machine-processable vocabularies designed to encourage the reuse and extension of meta-data semantics among disparate information communities.
  • [0032]
    One embodiment of the present invention uses the RDF schema standard for describing collections of documents that represent a single logical “bucket.” Among other metadata information associated with a bucket, one embodiment of the present invention also includes a “classmark” property for a bucket or container. A classmark for a bucket is obtained by matching the bucket with a pre-defined classification hierarchy. This specification results in better search engine capabilities, and also helps in cataloguing for describing the content.
  • [0033]
    [0033]FIG. 2 shows the automated cataloging and indexing components of one embodiment of the present invention. In this example, source digital repository 201 stores various documents that are available for retrieval. This repository can be a digital library, a database, a website, or any other information repository.
  • [0034]
    According to one embodiment of the present invention, the system first collects keyword information as shown in 202. The information available in the repository is first scanned using a spider application such as Berkeley's SWISH-E™. The spider collects a list of all keywords contained in each document, generating an index to facilitate searching and further processing. The present invention could use additional spiders or other data collection applications.
  • [0035]
    In one embodiment of the present invention, the spider can be configured to traverse all available documents on source digital repository 201. The spider can also be configured to only traverse documents to a fixed depth.
  • [0036]
    Once a keyword index has been generated, one embodiment of the present invention uses classification hierarchy 203 to automatically catalogue documents as shown in 204. According to one embodiment of the present invention, classification hierarchy 203 is a predetermined classification system. There are many such classification systems currently in use. For example, the Department of Defense publishes the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) classification system; the Association for Computing Machinery publishes a computer science classification system; and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office publishes a classification system of all technological arts. Any classification system can be used as a domain with the present invention to automatically catalogue and index documents.
  • [0037]
    The classification hierarchy 203 is a specific weighted domain ontology used to identify documents based on keywords found within each document. For example, according to one embodiment of the present invention, classification hierarchy 203 includes a hierarchical list of classifications. Each classification within the hierarchical list includes one or more keywords representative of that class. For example, one classification system includes a top-level classification labeled “Aviation Technology.” Within this classification, there are three sub-classifications: “Aerodynamics”; “Aircraft”; and “Flight Control and Instrumentation.” Each classification includes keywords representative of that class. For example, “Aerodynamics” includes “dynamics of testing,” “wind tunnel,” etc. These keywords are used to determine the most likely classification of a document. Thus, the classification hierarchy 203 functions as a thesaurus, assisting in the correct identification and classification of a document based on the keyword index generated in 202.
  • [0038]
    The present invention automatically catalogues documents in source digital repository 201 as shown in 204. The mapping of documents to one or more specific classifications can be performed in many ways. In one embodiment of the present invention, documents are catalogued by mapping keywords from 202 against a specific weighted domain ontology, such as classification hierarchy 203. In another embodiment of the present invention, a neural network is used to recognize which categories within classification hierarchy 203 are most likely relevant to the referenced document. One of ordinary skill in the art would recognize other methods to categorize documents in accordance with the present invention.
  • [0039]
    The automated cataloguing system is effective; however, it is not 100% accurate. To assist in increasing the overall accuracy of the collected metadata, one embodiment of the present invention includes a review process whereby the automatically suggested classifications are reviewed by a user to ensure they are accurate. In an additional embodiment, a user performs the cataloguing process; however, the automated cataloguing system is used to suggest an appropriate classification to the user, thereby aiding the human operator, increasing the operational speed and accuracy of the cataloguing process.
  • [0040]
    Once a document has been catalogued, metadata information is created and stored as shown in 205. In one embodiment of the present invention, metadata is encoded and stored in XML/RDF format. Other embodiments store metadata or update a key descriptor field in a database system, a flat file, or any other mechanism that provides a way to store and retrieve data. For example, for previously built indexes based on full word searching, the existing indexes can be updated with the cataloguing tool. This information can be used by portal server 103 to facilitate effective searching and retrieval of data stored in source digital repository 201.
  • [0041]
    [0041]FIG. 3 shows a data structure for containing metadata according to one embodiment of the present invention. The data structure includes the following attributes: (1) a URL; (2) a title; (3) an author; (4) an abstract; (5) a collection; (6) a keyword; (7) one or more matched words; (8) a path; (9) a classmark; (10) a classification date; and (11) a last modified date. Each of these attributes will be discussed in turn below.
  • [0042]
    The attributes in FIG. 3 are shown according to one embodiment of the present invention. One of ordinary skill in the art would understand that many variations of this data structure could be made without departing from the scope and spirit of the present invention. Additionally, this data structure is designed to record metadata for information stored on the web. The present invention could be used to record metadata about data stored in other formats. For example, the metadata could be used to facilitate searching of an Oracle™ database or any other relational or object-oriented database. In such an application, the metadata structure could be modified to better accommodate the stored data.
  • [0043]
    The URL attribute stores a uniform resource locator (URL), a property uniquely identifying the data. The most common URL is a web address. For example, “http://www.saic.research.com/RDF/source/agriculturel.txt” uniquely identifies the location of a web page. First, “http:” defines that protocol that is used to access the information. “HTTP” represents the standard protocol used on the web, the hypertext transfer protocol. Next, “www.saic.research.com” defines the server where the information is stored. On the Internet, computers communicate using the Internet Protocol (IP). When using this protocol, computers must convert host names to IP addresses using a distributed hierarchical database known as the Domain Name Service (DNS). This host name can be used to look up the IP Address in DNS. Finally, “/source/agriculturel.txt” identifies the path to the information. In combination, the entire URL defines the protocol to be used, the address of the server providing the information, and the path to the provided information.
  • [0044]
    The “Title” attribute gives the title of the resource. For most webpages, the title is displayed on the title bar on the top of a web browser. This data is intended to convey the general purpose and content of the document to a user.
  • [0045]
    The “Author” attribute identifies the person or persons who wrote the document. In one embodiment of the present invention, the “Author” attribute identifies the owner of the document within the server file system. Modern computer operating systems are designed to support multiple users. Each user logs on to the system using a user identifier. When a file is created on a computer, the user creating the file is recorded as the owner of that file or document. In one embodiment, this information is used to populate the “Author” attribute.
  • [0046]
    The “Abstract” attribute stores the document's or resource's abstract. The abstract gives a brief overview of the document designed to facilitate searching and allowing a user to quickly determine if a document is relevant.
  • [0047]
    The “Collection” attribute identifies the type of a resource. For example, a document may be a “Technical Report,” a “Proposal,” a “Refereed Journal,” a “Thesis”, and so on. This attribute is used to identify the general type of a document to assist in searching and retrieval of information.
  • [0048]
    The “Keyword” attribute is usually stored as a RDF Bag container. An RDF Bag container stores multiple values. Thus, the “Keyword” attribute can store one or more keywords. Each keyword is a word identified in a document that assists in identifying the subject matter of that document.
  • [0049]
    The “MatchedWords” attribute is one or more words from a document that match the classification. This attribute can include one matched word, or can contain an RDF Bag holding a plurality of matched words. For example in FIG. 3, the “MatchedWords” attribute includes “field” and “general.”
  • [0050]
    The “Path” attribute identifies that path component of the URL as discussed above. For example in FIG. 3, the path is “source/agriculture1.txt.” This identifies the location of the referenced document within the information repository system.
  • [0051]
    The “Classmark” attribute identifies a classification for a document. The classification can include one or more predetermined classification systems. For example, FIG. 3 shows two classifications; “Ordnance.Aerial Bombs” and “Ordnance.Underwater Ordnance”. These classifications are within the Defense Department's DTIC classification system. In other embodiments of the present invention other classification systems are used. For example, the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), an association for computing professionals, publishes a classification hierarchy for areas within the field of computing. Similarly, the U.S. patent and Trademark Office publishes a classification hierarchy for all areas within the technological arts for classifying issued patents. In one embodiment of the present invention, the classmark attribute is assigned through an automated process.
  • [0052]
    The “Classification_date” attribute stores the date that a classmark was assigned to the referenced document. This identifies when the document was classified.
  • [0053]
    Finally, the “Last_modified” attribute stores the date the referenced document was last modified. In one embodiment of the present invention, this attribute is obtained from the operating system of the information repository. In modern computer operating systems, the date that a file is created and the date the a file was last modified are stored with each file on the system. Using this information, the date that a document was last modified can be obtained from the operating system and used to populate this field.
  • [0054]
    [0054]FIG. 4 shows a sample RDF schema according to one embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, the shown RDF schema defines a vocabulary for representing metadata. The RDF shown implements the data structure shown in FIG. 3 in an XML/RDF format. By defining an RDF vocabulary, XML/RDF-aware browsers can use the metadata information to search and retrieve information from the data store.
  • [0055]
    [0055]FIG. 5 shows a sample document encoded in XML/RDF using the vocabulary defined in FIG. 4.
  • [0056]
    Once documents have been categorized and metadata information has been stored, more effective searches can be performed using the system shown in FIG. 1. For example, a user can further restrict a search to a particular classification. If one possible classification is “Ordnance.Aerial Bombs,” the user can restrict the search to only those documents with this classification in their classmark attribute. Additionally, a user's keyword search will be more effective by utilizing the “MatchedWords” and “Keyword” metadata attributes. By using an automated cataloguing process, the present invention provides more effective searching and information retrieval capabilities than the widely used keyword indexing systems.
  • [0057]
    Embodiments of the present invention have now been fully described. It will be appreciated that these examples are merely illustrative of the present invention. Many variations and modifications will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

Claims (32)

    What is claimed is:
  1. 1. A system for providing a portal to information stored in one or more information repositories, comprising:
    a computer network;
    one or more information repositories, each information repository including a communications component connecting the information repository to the computer network;
    a metadata server, the metadata server including a communications component connecting the metadata server to the computer network, the metadata server storing metadata information about data stored in the one or more information repositories; and
    a portal server, the portal server having a communications component connecting the portal server to the computer network, the portal server receiving requests and processing the requests using metadata information stored on the metadata server.
  2. 2. The system of claim 1, wherein the computer network is the Internet.
  3. 3. The system of claim 1, wherein the metadata server stores the metadata information encoded in the eXtensible Markup Language (XML).
  4. 4. The system of claim 1, wherein the metadata server stores the metadata information encoded in the Resource Description Framework (RDF) format.
  5. 5. The system of claim 1, wherein the requests that the portal server receives are one or more from the group consisting of: a search request and an information retrieval request.
  6. 6. The system of claim 1, wherein the metadata server and the portal server are run on a single computing device.
  7. 7. The system of claim 6, wherein the metadata server and the portal server use the same communications component to connect to the computer network.
  8. 8. The system of claim 1, wherein the metadata information stored on the metadata server includes classmark information.
  9. 9. The system of claim 8, wherein the classmark information is automatically determined from an index and a class definition.
  10. 10. A system for searching and retrieving information on a network, comprising:
    a computer network; and
    a user workstation, the user workstation including a communications component connecting the user workstation to the computer network, the user workstation receiving a request;
    the user workstation sending the request to a portal server, the portal server using metadata information about data stored in one or more information repositories to process the request, returning resulting information to the user workstation.
  11. 11. The system of claim 10, wherein the metadata information is encoded in the eXtensible Markup Language (XML).
  12. 12. The system of claim 10, wherein the metadata information is encoded in the Resource Description Framework (RDF) format.
  13. 13. The system of claim 10, wherein the request received by the user workstation is one or more from the group consisting of: a search request and an information retrieval request.
  14. 14. A system for cataloguing information stored in an information repository, the system comprising:
    a keyword index of data stored in an information repository;
    one or more domain class definitions; and
    a computing device, the computing device cataloguing documents stored in the information repository using the keyword index and the one or more class definitions.
  15. 15. The system of claim 14, wherein the keyword index is built by a spider.
  16. 16. The system of claim 14, wherein each of the one or more domain class definitions includes one or more classes, each of the one or more classes including keywords representative of that class.
  17. 17. The system of claim 16, wherein each of the keywords representative of a class are weighted.
  18. 18. A computer-readable medium comprising data stored in a data structure for describing data stored in an information repository, the data structure including:
    a resource locator attribute identifying a document stored in an information repository; and
    a classmark attribute identifying a classification of the document, the classification automatically determined using a keyword index and a classification definition.
  19. 19. The computer-readable medium of claim 18, wherein the data structure further comprises:
    an author attribute identifying the author of the document; and
    a title attribute specifying a title for the document.
  20. 20. The computer-readable medium of claim 18, wherein the data structure further comprises an abstract attribute specifying an abstract of the document.
  21. 21. The computer-readable medium of claim 18, wherein the data structure further comprises a keyword attribute, the keyword attribute identifying zero or more keywords for the document.
  22. 22. A method for cataloguing data stored in an information repository, comprising:
    receiving a keyword index of data stored in an information repository;
    receiving a classification definition, the classification definition including a plurality of classes;
    determining the classification of data stored in the information repository using the keyword index and the classification definition; and
    storing the determined classification.
  23. 23. The method of claim 22, wherein receiving a keyword index is built by a spider.
  24. 24. The method of claim 22, wherein the determined classification is stored in the eXtensible Markup Language (XML) format.
  25. 25. The method of claim 22, wherein the determined classification is stored in the Resource Description Framework (RDF) format.
  26. 26. A method for providing access to one or more information repositories, the method comprising:
    receiving a request on a portal server; and
    using metadata about data stored in one or more information repositories to process the request.
  27. 27. The method of claim 26, wherein the request is one or more from the group consisting of: a search request and an information retrieval request.
  28. 28. The method of claim 26, wherein the metadata is encoded in the eXtensible Markup Language (XML).
  29. 29. The method of claim 26, wherein the metadata is encoded in the Resource Description Framework (RDF) format.
  30. 30. The method of claim 26, wherein the metadata is stored on the portal server.
  31. 31. The method of claim 26, wherein the metadata is stored on a metadata server.
  32. 32. The method of claim 26, wherein the metadata includes a classmark attribute, the classmark attribute being automatically generated from a keyword index and a class definition.
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